Looking Back: Rose Prairie

While writing the story about the Red Cross Outpost Hospital at Grandhaven it was discovered that the Nurse, Miss Ann Roberts, had later married Mr. Jim Young and moved to his farm at Rose Prairie. Upon investigating it was learned that the old pioneer home that sits next to the Rose Prairie post office was the home of the Young family. The house was built in 1929 and was lived in by Jim as he was the first postmaster and mail carrier for Rose Prairie, with raising sheep and Herefords on the side. Jim brought his bride to live with him here in 1931. The present postmaster living on the same site was gracious enough to show us around and give us a bit of the history of Rose Prairie. She has a vested interest in Rose Prairie as Gerry Ann Young is the wife of the late Robert Young, son of Jim and Ann Young, and has been the postmaster at Rose Prairie for more than 50 years! Gerry Ann arrived at Rose Prairie to teach in the little school house but fell in love with Robert Young, started a family and in 1960 became the postmaster. She's no stranger to the area as her grandfather was Herby Taylor whom the village of Taylor is named after. She was joined on this day by her sister-in-law (who seemed more like her sister) Mary or Mrs. Tom Mickey from Whitehorse. There is one other sibling living in Calgary, Mrs. Dorothy (Dottie) Snippa.

Settlers coming to Rose Prairie in the early days had to travel a very rough trail. The trails were made by horseback riders and pack horses, but were followed by covered wagon, freight wagons, the odd pig, cows and the horses which were used for transportation for many years. Early settlers "squatted" on their chosen land.

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The influx of settlers in 1928 came with Jim Young being one of the first and was followed by Mike and Hawthorne Marshall, Peter McCulloch, Ed Morgan, Ed Petersen, Ernie Petersen, Jack Camelin, Alex Thompson, Ed McBernie, Pete Jacobsen, Gus Olsen, Bill Heckethier, Alex Brown and Pete Petersen. Arriving with these men were Ruby Thompson, Mrs. Morgan, Mary McCulloch, Mary Marshall and Janet Marshall. There were also ten children with many more born soon after arriving at Rose Prairie. In 1928 the district had no name or post office. Jim Young had offered to haul the mail each week, but they needed a name for the post office. Janet Marshall and Ruby Thompson were walking along, enjoying the roses growing so prolific on the prairie so the name Rose Prairie was chosen and submitted to Victoria, thus the name was official. The creek that runs through Rose Prairie is called Whiskey Creek, some say because of the many whiskey jack birds that frequent the creek and others say the creek water is the colour of whiskey.maybe it's a little of both!

A little store was opened by Alex Brown, followed by the first school being built by the Marshalls and other community members. The first teacher was Mr. Alwin Holland in 1929. The land was surveyed in 1930, by Knox McCusker, with an abundance of grass for the horses and stock, berries to eat, good land to be cleared, and trees to build log cabins with. Lynch Callison had a store that sat where the church is now, with western wear on one side and hardware and tack for sale on the other side.

Jim Young, who's grandfather was the mayor of Ottawa at one time, came to the area by way of the Edson Trail with an ox-drawn wagon in 1913. He arrived with Charlie and Frank Boyd, who's daughter later married another pioneer named Gordon Moore. Jim was born in Sarnia, Ontario. He homesteaded in Halcourt, and later had a fur-trading post at Kelly Lake. Seeing the need for a school at Kelly Lake, Jim was instrumental in seeing that a school was started in this mostly native settlement. It was in 1923 that he met Gerry Andrews as the first school teacher. Gerry remained a good friend of Jim and Ann's throughout their lives. He also became the Surveyor-General for the province of B.C. and wrote a book about his memoirs at Kelly Lake called the "Metis Outpost." After several years at Kelly Lake Jim settled in at Rose Prairie. He continued to care for his community, and was made a Justice of the Peace in the earlier years, and called a meeting at his home to organize the first fair for Rose Prairie, North Pine and Montney. He was a friend to all, an enemy to no one and was a quiet and patient man.

Angharad Meirion Roberts (Ann Young) was born in Brighton, England and made her way to the little Grandhaven Red Cross Hospital to work as the first nurse in 1930, tending to the sick and residing in the little building until her marriage to farmer/postmaster Jim Young of Rose Prairie. Mrs. Young resumed her duties as a nurse following the move to Rose Prairie, but this time as a traveling nurse, leaving her home many times, no matter how severe the weather, to aid the sick or deliver another citizen of the Peace country. She delivered more than 300 babies during her career. With three children of her own it must have been quite a challenge to go out into the night, hitch up the wagon or saddle the horse and travel untold miles to aid the person in need.

When looking through the Young's pioneer home we noticed the ice hooks still on the wall that would have been used to fetch ice from the Beaton River in the winter to use for drinking, cooking and bathing. Also on the wall was a lantern, rusty and worn and we wondered how many times Ann Young had used the lantern to find her way in the night. Jim and Ann's daughter, Mary Mickey, said that probably it was used by her Mother, and most definitely by her Father to see his way out to the livestock.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News


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